Catherine Ann Macdonald
I am the eldest of four, I was born and brought up in the village of Laxdale on the Island of Lewis, later our family moved into one of the large housing schemes on the outskirts of the town of Stornoway.
As a child I went to church with my Granny. I remember trying on new coats, a number of hats including a straw Easter bonnet and a furry one for the winter which was tied down with two large fluffy pom-poms. I stopped going to church when my Gran died. I would have been 10 years old.
I had a normal kind of life, hanging out with friends doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. I had no real interest in school and I could not wait to leave. I started working as soon as I could.
I met my husband and was married at the age of 21. A couple of years later we started our family and had two boys.
In November 2003 I heard a song by the singer Dido called ‘ Life for Rent.’ I started to think about the words of her song – ‘But if my life is for rent and I don’t learn how to buy, well I deserve nothing more than I get, ‘cos nothing I have is truly mine.’ I had to buy the C D. which I listened to over and over again. I was asking myself, `Is my life for rent? Who am I renting from? What do I need to buy?’ The line – ‘I deserve nothing more than I get’ – made me think about Hell. ‘Nothing I have is truly mine,’ we can’t take anything with us when we die.
Looking back I know now what the Lord was telling me through that song. I had to buy the truth which was, believing and trusting in Christ Jesus. If I did not then I would deserve nothing more than I got.
I came under conviction of sin in August 2003 although at the time I was unsure as to what was happening to me.
One day as I talked with a friend who had recently been converted she started talking about the Bible. My Bible knowledge was very limited but she offered to buy me a Bible for my Christmas. I realised that as Christmas was getting closer I was actually looking forward to receiving my new Bible.
Christmas came and went and I never received my Bible. Perhaps she was waiting until my birthday which was a week after Christmas. No, instead she took me out for a meal!! Yes I know, very kind but all I could think about was my forgotten Bible.
Each night as I was preparing the evening meal I asked God where my promised bible was. I have always believed in God, I knew about Him although I had never heard anyone’s testimony. I did not realise that we could actually know Him and have a relationship with Him.
At the end of the two weeks my eldest son came home with a Gideon’s New Testament in his hand. He said, ‘look what I got at school today mum’ as he handed me the book. I could hear God saying to me, ‘there is your Bible Catherine.’ I put it down on a table promising myself that I would read it later.
That weekend having finished reading a novel, I was tidying the house and getting the kids ready for the next day at school when I hurt my back. I finished my preparations but found that I could not get out of bed on the Monday morning because of back pain. I phoned to cancel my childminding work for that week.
Somehow I managed to get my own children ready for school and having sat down at the table I saw the Gideon’s New Testament. I picked it up and started to read in order that I might learn something that I could use in conversation with my friend. I read and read more or less for two whole days. I was captivated and I loved it. I simply could not put the little book down.
I felt my soul coming alive as it fed on God’s Word. When my husband came home and we were seated having our evening meal I wondered if I should say anything to him. I wondered if I should tell him that I felt as though something had moved in my heart. I argued with myself. Tell him – no don’t tell him. He will think that I’m crazy having just picked up the Bible the day before. Anyway I found I could not keep silent and I blurted out, ’I felt God’s love today.’ ‘Where did you feel it?’ he asked. ‘In my heart’ I answered and that was the end of our conversation!
I kept reading for the rest of that week and on the following Tuesday I had reached John 5:42 – ‘But I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.’ I remembered the conversation from the previous week as Jesus addressed the Pharisees. It was as if He was speaking directly to me and I felt so hurt that I closed my Bible and asked Jesus, ‘How can you say that to me? That hurt and this is not how You are going to get me!’
I went into the kitchen and started talking to my husband, well he was talking to me but I was not listening to him as I continued talking and questioning Jesus. When my husband finished talking I said, ‘I see’ which was supposed to cover my lack of interest. As I said it though a line from the hymn Amazing Grace came to mind - ‘I was blind but now I see.’
I had not known what these words meant until that very moment when I felt my heart open and it filled with His love, peace and joy. Not only did my heart fill with these things it overflowed. This was God’s love shed abroad in my heart and it was amazing!
I tried explaining to my husband what had just happened and he looked at me as if I was some kind of crazy woman! This wonderful joyful feeling stayed with me for 3 weeks. I couldn’t sleep I was so happy. It was a new level of happiness for me. Nothing bothered me at this time, not even the kids fighting with each other. It was as if I was cocooned in a protective bubble that nothing bad could penetrate.
I had to tell everyone about this and I could not keep quiet. I imagined that I was the only person this had ever happened to. It was the most amazing experience that I have ever had. Thank you Lord Jesus. I was 36 years old when I experienced this glorious awakening of my soul on January 27th 2004.
I did not want to go to church and I told God that He was going to be my Teacher. I did not want to be indentified with those going to church with their fancy hats and coats. This however changed in March of that year and I had a real desire to go to church. I wore a skirt the first time and I felt very uncomfortable. It was just not me. The next time I wore dress trousers and I had the same feeling – I would have been as well staying at home. At last I tried going to church wearing my jeans and for the first time I relaxed and enjoyed the service.
I asked God if it was OK for me to go to church wearing jeans and He showed me 1st Samuel 16 verse 7 – ‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Who can argue with that? That was just the beginning of my walk with God. He has taught me, revealed Himself to me, guided me, kept me, amazed me and surprised me. Most important of all, He saved me from a fearful pit.
Many O Lord my God are the wonderful works which you have done, and your thoughts towards us; No one can compare with you! If I should declare and speak of them, They are to many to be numbered.
Psalm 40:5 Amp Bible
But let all those who take refuge And put their trust in you rejoice; Let them ever sing and shout for joy, Because you make a covering over them and defend them; Let those who also love your name Be joyful in you and be in high spirits.
I am so glad that Jesus is in my life. He is the reason I live.
Catherine Ann Macdonald